Osmena wants a new Sin tax bill committee report

SENATOR Sergio “Serge” Osmena on Friday said that he wanted to have a new committee report on Sin Tax bill to hasten deliberation as it may be jeopardized by the debates of the national budget.

In an interview after the hearing on public sector issues, Osmena said that Sen. Franklin Drilon may be pre-occupied in defending the national budget in November which will put Sin tax bill deliberations in danger.

“I do not know what Sen, Drilon’s schedule is. I think he will be busy all of November due to the budget. Budget lang kawawa na siya, and I think he will lose 10 to 20 pounds,” Osmena said.

He said, the only short cut method to hasten the deliberation of the sin tax bill, which projected revenues were factored in the 2013 budget, is to have a new committee report by recommitting Recto report to the panel.

“I think, we have to come up with our own committee report,” Osmena said.

“We can hold a hearing if we want to because we already held hearings and essentially the same facts. And so you can serve the same set of facts to the senators and they can come up with different conclusions. As a matter of fact they can come up with 23 different conclusions and we will just take a vote on it. So committee can just simply move and report out the Miriam’s bill and debate it on the floor,” he added.

By having two important measures at hand, Osmena said that Drilon cannot present and debate the Sin Tax bill and national budget simultaneously in the plenary.

“That’s true because he can only do one thing well at a time. Anybody can do one thing well at a time. First things first, priority, parehong mabigat,” Osmena said.

Osmena said that by recommitting the Recto report to the panel, it can be used as a basis on the bill of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who proposed a P60 billion projected revenues both on alcohol and tobacco.

“So what we can do is to recommit the Recto report to the committee and use maybe as a basis the bill of Sen. Santiago. That will only take one day. But for Sen. Drilon to do his own work on that, it will take some time. I think that will be the best way to go,” he explained.

Osmena also argued that if Drilon will going to use the Recto version, it will give him a hard time defending a report which he totally opposed.

“If we stick to Recto report, masydong madugo ang amendments as it is now. Sen. Drilon will find himself in a fix because we can only question him on what is in the committee report. So, bubugbugin namin siya, how he can defend it, he might end up saying “I agree with you,” Osmena further explained.

Also, Osmena said that unless the administration help Drilon in defending the Sin Tax bill in order to lessen his burden, the measure will be hard to pass.

“As long as you have the confidence of the Palace and they will back you up because you do need all those resource persons from the finance, revenue and NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority), and even the secretary of health, unless you have that kind of people, it will be hard to pass that bill,” Osmena said.

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